21 May 2022. It’s springtime in Paris. Kylian Mbappe is the hottest commodity in football, and he decides to enjoy the charm of this city that shot him to stardom for three more years. Not many footballers can boast of refusing an offer from Florentino Perez. When Papa Perez comes calling, there’s only one answer: pack up and leave for Madrid.
But Mbappe is a different breed, he is a World Cup winner, and he is the next big superstar, the show stopper for every club he has played for. He follows his heart, but the decision to stay in Paris was not about that. He decided to stay in Paris because he was offered the most outlandish contract in the history of football by his club Paris Saint-Germain.
Mbappe received a signing bonus of at least €150 million for a contract worth €80 million per year. The new contract also gave him the power to influence any high-level decisions of the club, right from the appointment of coaches to bringing in the players he wants in the upcoming three seasons.
12 November 2022. It’s almost six months since Mbappe signed an extension deal, and he is already bored. He wants to move now, the prospect of sharing the attacking line with Lionel Messi and Neymar doesn’t excite him anymore. The relationship between Mbappe and PSG hasn’t just turned sour, but has reached the breaking point. But how did they reach there?
Mbappe already feels some of his demands are not met by the club. He wanted the whole project to be set up around him, but there’s an obvious impediment in the form of Neymar and Messi, both of them being great players in their own right. The fractured relationship between Neymar and Mbappe came across initially as just a baseless rumor, but now it feels like there’s a hint of truth in that. None but Mbappe’s own story on Instagram confirmed this.
After PSG were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw, Mbappe wrote, “Pivot Gang,” before deleting it within a few minutes. What’s Pivot Gang? It was nothing but a subtle dig at the PSG coach Christophe Galtier, who plays Mbappe in a more pivotal role. In his own words, Mbappe feels he is more effective when he is given the freedom to roam around, preferably in a two-striker set-up, alongside No. 9, rather than as a pure striker.
Galtier, however, can’t accommodate him in that role, considering the presence of Messi and Neymar. This is one of the reasons Mbappe wanted PSG to get rid of Neymar, and sign Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich. This is the major source of the rift. Moreover, both Messi and Neymar are flourishing in the new role, and there’s no reason for Galtier to fix what’s not broken in the first place. It’s also plausible to believe that Mbappe wants the spotlight, and this isn’t happening this season, thanks to the scintillating form of both Messi and Neymar.
Before answering this question, let me address another twist in the tale, here. Mediapart, the investigative outlet from France, made a shocking revelation that PSG has created numerous fake accounts across social media to discredit Mbappe. You wouldn’t expect a global brand to resort to such malicious tactics, but PSG’s official response echoed a similar view. But were you really expecting the nation-state football project to meekly accept, even if they did this? Yes, we did that, and we are sorry. Nah, it doesn’t work like that. But what the hell does this have to do with Mbappe’s contract?
Alright, we will have to enter the legal territory now. If the PSG is found guilty of this childish ploy, Mbappe can use it to trigger a contract termination. But it will still require him to fight a legal case, which seems highly unlikely.
Tatiana Vassine, a labor lawyer at RMC, told the Spanish outlet Marca, “Each of the parties bound by an employment contract is subject to an obligation of loyalty that is the equivalent of the obligation of good faith existing in all contracts.”
“In case of litigation, it would be up to bodies such as the labor court or the legal commission of the LFP to decide this point in view of the elements that are in the file. They are the ones who have the last word,” she adds.
In short, Mabppe can terminate his contract if the club is proven guilty.
Mbappe’s reported contract is worth €80 million per year. He hasn’t even completed the first year of his contract. But if the aforementioned allegations against PSG are proven, they will need to pay the entire amount for the three-year deal, since the breach of the contract came from them. In case this doesn’t happen, and Mbappe walks out of the contract on his own, then he will not be liable to be paid the full amount.
Of course. He will be free to move in the January transfer window, but only if the clubs match the demands of his existing employer PSG. Technically, everything depends on PSG, whether they are willing to sell, but clubs rarely interfere if the player has made up his mind to go elsewhere. There’s an encouraging precedent for Mbappe. Earlier this year, Bayern Munich seemed hell-bent on not allowing Lewandowski to move, but they had to relent eventually.
When a fan advised Florentino Perez to never bring Mbappe after the betrayal episode, he responded, “poor man” will “already be sorry”. Looks like Perez’s prophecy has turned into reality. Perez felt betrayed, and his words conveyed this emotion when he talked about the whole saga to a Spanish outlet. But words hold little value over the business. Real Madrid would still love to have someone of Mbappe’s calibre in their squad. Karim Benzema, their primary provider of goals, will be 35 next season, and they do need to find a replacement sooner than later.
Liverpool seems to be the next viable option, though their recent performances may act as a deterrent for the French forward. Liverpool’s juggernaut has crashed this season, and they will need to build everything from scratch. Mbappe doesn’t seem to be the man with enough patience to trust the process. He needs a well-settled team where he can flourish from the start.
This is where Manchester City comes into the picture. They already have Erling Haaland in their rank, and adding Mbappe would be a sure shot way to kill whatever little competitiveness is left in the Premier League.
For all the egos and narcissism, Mbappe is still a genius footballer, a sui generis who is bound to dominate the game for the years to come. Losing him will be a big blow for the club. It will force the PSG coach Galtier to rejig the attacking formula that has been so successful this season.
Mbappe is not just any other club player; he is a generational talent. But neither PSG is your average football club; they are a super club, armed with a never-ending flow of cash. It may take some time to find a perfect replacement, but it will happen. Their financial muscle gives them the surety to assemble anyone they want.
Lead Image: Kylian Mbappe/Twitter